Crunch Report | Theranos Closes Its Last Lab

A YouTube messaging feature launches in Canada, Theranos closes its last lab in Scottsdale, Arizona, DoorDash and Postmates start using Starship robotics to test robot delivery and Google buys Fabric dev platform. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

Microsoft rolls out preview of plugin-free Skype for Web support in Edge

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Microsoft today launched a preview of plugin-free Skype calls in Microsoft Edge. The new functionality works anywhere you can use Skype in the browser: Skype for Web, Outlook.com, Office Online, and OneDrive. Both voice and video calls are supported, including one-to-one and group sessions.

This is possible because Edge last year gained support for the Object Real-Time Communications (ORTC) API. Since at least October 2014, Microsoft was planning to bring voice and video calling to its browser without the need for plugins. Originally, that meant in Internet Explorer, but after Edge launched, it made sense to go with the new browser.

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Squarespace now sells you domain names directly so you can sidestep GoDaddy

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Website builder Squarespace is adding an extra string to its bow today with the launch of Squarespace Domains, a service that helps users procure more than 200 top-level domain (TLD) names from $20 to $70 a year.

Founded in 2004, Squarespace has built a solid reputation in the creative realm, with a DIY platform for building and hosting websites, alongside a content-management system (CMS) for bloggers. And from today, anyone can search for their preferred domain across a multitdue of TLDs, including .academy, .camera, .pizza, .plumbing, and more.

Squarespace is also touting WHOIS Privacy as a free addon to subscribers — this means that when you register a domain name, your personal details will automatically be hidden in the WHOIS public database, something which GoDaddy and other providers charge for. Other “perks” include a “beautiful ad-free parking page,” and it will soon offer SSL certificates and free domain-name transfers.

Microsoft releases new Windows 10 Mobile preview with Cortana, Edge, and lock screen improvements

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Microsoft released a new Windows 10 Mobile preview today. The latest build includes improvements to the Action Center, notifications, Cortana, Settings, emoji, Edge, and the Lock screen.

Like the last mobile build, this one is only available for devices that shipped with Windows 10 Mobile (the Lumia 950, 950 XL, 650, 550, Xiaomi Mi4, and Alcatel OneTouch Fierce XL) and select Windows Phone 8.1 devices that have been upgraded. The only exception is the Lumia 635, which Microsoft plans to add at a later date. Microsoft naturally has no plans to offer new preview builds to other devices.

First up, individual app notifications in the Action Center no longer show the app icon repeated for each notification, while more Cortana notifications have been added. You can also now add, remove, and re-arrange the Quick Actions that show up in Action Center. Notifications in the Action Center now also have

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Facebook just validated the bot movement for businesses

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The battle for our attention has once again shifted to a new technological plane within the mobile space. The industry now is starting to turn its attention away from apps and instead focusing on a new interface to drive “conversational commerce,” a concept first named by social designer Chris Messina. It’s centered around “delivering convenience, personalization, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare,” Messina wrote.

Already there are quite a few services lined up to capitalize on this opportunity, including Path’s Talk, Kik, Telegram, Skype, WeChat, and Line. However, nobody appeared to be a market leader — at least until Facebook entered the scene.

At this year’s F8 developer conference, the social networking company announced it was investing more into the messaging platform it launched in 2014. This means we’ll start to see more businesses using Facebook Messenger to communicate with their customers

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I bought an Apple keyboard from 1990 just for my iPad Pro

Apple Extended Keyboard II and 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

The new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is a very nice tablet. With features like Split View and the optional $99 Apple Pencil, you can actually get a lot done with it. But if you like to stretch out when you type, you might not be a big fan of the optional $149 Smart Keyboard that Apple designed to pair with the tablet. It’s a little cramped.

Fortunately, you can use the tablet with other keyboards. For instance, Logitech’s K380 Bluetooth keyboard works fine. But if you want to have a truly impressive typing experience, you really ought to consider a real keyboard. Something like, say, the Apple Extended Keyboard II. From 1990.

I’m typing on it now. It’s amazing. The loud “pop-pip” sound of the keys. The very impressive travel of the keys — around 2.5 mm. The satisfying feeling of the keys being actuated, which has to do

All I want to do is type.
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Microsoft releases Visual Studio Code 1.0 as the code editor passes 500,000 monthly active users

Visual Studio Code.

Microsoft today is announcing the release of version 1.0 of its open-source Visual Studio Code text editor. The cross-platform application now has more than 500,000 monthly active users, after launching last year.

More than 1,000 extensions have become available for Visual Studio Code since Microsoft introduced extensibility in November, when it became available on GitHub under an open-source MIT license. The community has closed more than 300 pull requests with an eye toward improving the software.

“We feel like we have a good, stable ecosystem that lets us kind of declare GA [general availability],” Microsoft Visual Studio engineering leader Shanku Niyogi told VentureBeat in an interview. In reality the new features have been available to people participating in the Insiders Program for weeks, but now the beta sticker is going away.

Of course, Visual Studio Code isn’t the only text editor. There’s GitHub’s Atom, which has more than 1

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Chrome 50 arrives with push notification improvements and declarative preload

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Google today launched Chrome 50 for Windows, Mac, and Linux, adding the usual slew of developer features. You can update to the latest version now, using the browser’s built-in silent updater, or download it directly from google.com/chrome.

Chrome is arguably more than a browser: With over 1 billion users, it’s a major platform that web developers have to consider. In fact, with its regular additions and changes, developers have to keep up to ensure they are taking advantage of everything available.

Google has been toying with notifications in Chrome for years. Chrome apps and extensions have supported push notifications on desktop since May 2010 (first added in Chrome 5). More recently, webpages gained the ability to send push notifications to users with the release of Chrome 42, the desktop notification center was removed in Chrome 47, and custom notification buttons were added in Chrome 48.

Now,

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Apple releases first Safari Technology Preview update with Web Inspector, ES6 enhancements

Safari Technology Preview release 9.1.1.

Apple today released the first update to its Safari Technology Preview version of Safari designed for software developers.

This second release (version 9.1.1) comes with several changes that have to do with JavaScript, CSS, accessibility, the browser’s Web Inspector feature, and most generally, the latest from the WebKit open-source browser engine.

With respect to JavaScript in particular, the browser now ships with enhanced support for ECMAScript 6, as that has previously come to other modern browsers, like Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. You can find a full list of changes in the Release Notes.

The new version is becoming available two weeks after the initial release.

You can get the new version directly from Apple’s website, or alternatively you can grab it from the Updates section in the Mac App Store.

More information:

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Google should revise its Android update messaging strategy

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Samsung and Verizon have finally gotten on the same page and pushed out the long-awaited Android 6.0 Marshmallow update to Galaxy S6 handsets — my own included. Only two weeks prior, I had rhetorically questioned the status of the update on Twitter, only to receive a canned response from Verizon support informing me how exciting these upgrades truly were.

But Verizon support was wrong. The update isn’t all that exciting. Featurewise, the transition from Lollipop to Marshmallow is a fairly minor one (except for the battery-saving Doze feature, which implements a reduced power sleep state when devices are idle). This trend towards a lack of marquee new features each year should make Google consider ways to better manage user expectations

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Facebook’s latest AI experiments: generating captions and recognizing faces in videos

Joaquin Quiñonera Candela, Facebook's director of applied machine learning, talks about Facebook's latest AI research efforts around video at the company's F8 developer conference in San Francisco on April 13, 2016.

At its F8 developer conference in San Francisco today, Facebook demonstrated its latest in artificial intelligence (AI) research efforts. Not surprisingly, they are about video.

Video implies a whole bunch of individual images put together. So it logically flows from Facebook’s progress around object recognition and image caption generation using AI.

“You can imagine us building image search on steroids,” Joaquin Quiñonera Candela, Facebook’s director of Applied Machine Learning, said onstage today.

He showed off two specific efforts:

1) Generating captions for the things people say in videos.

2) Identifying the people who appear in videos, so that they can be tagged, and even associated with specific times in the video, so that users can get right to the moment when a person first appears in the frame.

Facebook has been quite busy with artificial intelligence research in the two and a half years since tapping Yann LeCun to head

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Microsoft adds Universal Windows Platform support to Facebook’s React Native

Microsoft is bringing Universal Windows Platform (UWP) support to React Native.

Microsoft and Facebook are announcing today that the Facebook-led React Native open-source software for native mobile app development is getting Universal Windows Platform (UWP) support.

The new UWP development software is available now. But Microsoft will be sharing the code as part of the React Native project, said Christine Abernathy, developer advocate for Facebook’s open-source team, at Facebook’s F8 developer conference.

“The new UWP support extends the reach of these native apps to a new market of 270 million active Windows 10 devices, and the opportunity to reach beyond mobile devices, to PCs, and even the Xbox One and HoloLens,” Microsoft Developer Experience software engineer Eric Rozell wrote in a blog post. “For Windows app developers, it also means an opportunity to embed React Native components into their existing UWP apps and to leverage the developer tools and programming paradigms that React Native offers.”

Also today Facebook said that

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Google launches Android N Developer Preview 2 with new 3D rendering API, launcher shortcuts, and Emoji Unicode 9

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Google today launched the second release of the Android N developer preview. You can start testing your apps against this release by downloading the new preview from developer.android.com/preview.

Google launched the first Android N developer preview just over a month ago. In past years, Google has unveiled the next Android version and released the accompanying developer preview at its I/O developer conference, but with Android N, the company is starting much earlier — I/O 2016 is scheduled for May 18 to May 20.

The Android team has been working hard over the last month; three major features have been added in this second preview:

Facebook unveils antennas for improving Internet access in cities and rural areas

A prototype of Facebook's Project Aries.

Facebook today is showing off its latest unconventional equipment for bringing better Internet connectivity to more people.

There are two new projects: the Terragraph antennas for distributing gigabit Internet in densely city environments using both Wi-fi and cellular signals, and the Aries array of radio antennas for delivering wireless signals to devices in rural areas — where you don’t always get 4G LTE connections today.

Facebook believes the latter could one day be what 5G looks like in rural areas. But you’re more likely to see Terragraph in the real world before you’ll see Aries.

“We’re currently testing Terragraph at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park and preparing a broader trial with the city of San Jose in California,” Facebook product manager Neeraj Choubey and engineer Ali Panah wrote in a blog post. The social networking company intends to bring them to market in association with Internet service providers and mobile

Facebook's Terregraph project.
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Google launches TensorFlow 0.8 with support for distributed model training

TensorFlow.

Google today is announcing the release of version 0.8 of its TensorFlow open-source machine learning software. The release is significant because it supports the ability to train machine learning models on more than just a single machine.

TensorFlow can be used for a type of artificial intelligence called deep learning, which involves training artificial neural networks on lots of data and then getting them to make inferences about new data. Training is a crucial step in the process.

With more than 1 million servers in its possession, Googlers love to scale out their software across many servers at once and balance out the work in order to do it more quickly and efficiently. But when TensorFlow was released to the public in November, it didn’t support distributed training. And within less than 24 hours, people pointed it out as a GitHub issue.

“Our current internal distributed extensions are somewhat

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VCs raised billions in Q1 even as they made fewest investments in 3 years

Q1 2016 VC deals

At first blush, a review of venture capital dealmaking during the first quarter of 2016 suggests an industry gone mad.

VC firms raised the highest amount of capital raised in more than decade, even as they made the lowest number of investments in three years. What gives? The Q1 2016 Venture Pulse Report issued today by CB Insights and KPMG provides some method to this madness.

On Monday, the National Venture Capital Association had reported that U.S VC firms raised $12 billion across 57 different funds to invest in startups, calling it the largest amount raised in 10 years. KPMG and CB Insights did not specify a figure for the amount raised by firms, but called the billions raised the most since the dot com craziness of 2000. Regardless of the final amount, we’re talking about a vast amount of capital ready to be invested. For instance, Founders Fund raised

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Google blocks KickassTorrents in Chrome and Firefox as a ‘deceptive site’

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Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox users visiting popular torrent site KickassTorrents (KAT) have been seeing a malware warning since yesterday, similar to the warning they received on the site back in October 2015. Navigating to both http://kat.cr and https://kat.cr results in a message cautioning you to go no further (“Deceptive site ahead” in Chrome and “Reported Web Forgery!” in Firefox).

This issue only affects those browsers because Google’s Safe Browsing is flagging the site. The service powers similar security features in Chrome and Firefox.

The warnings are a bit different depending on the browser you’re using, but the gist is the same. Chrome users are told that “Attackers on kat.cr may trick you into doing something dangerous like installing software or revealing your personal information (for example, passwords, phone numbers, or credit cards).”

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Firefox users are told that “This web page at kat.

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WordPress 4.5 arrives with editing improvements, custom logos, and responsive previews

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WordPress.org today launched WordPress 4.5, which adds a slew of new features to the blog management tool to “streamline your workflow, whether you’re writing or building your site.” You can download the new release now from WordPress.org/Download (8.0MB).

WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that powers 25 percent of the Web. The latest version is dubbed “Coleman,” in honor of jazz saxophonist Coleman Hawkins.

WordPress 4.5 brings two editing improvements. First up is Inline Linking, which offers a less distracting interface for adding links to your content.

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The other is adding two new formatting shortcuts. Three dashes will add a horizontal line and you can finally use the code tag.

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In the customization area, themes can now support logos for your business or brand. To try this out, you’ll need to use either the Twenty Sixteen or Twenty Fifteen them in the Site

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Facebook opens Instant Articles to all publishers

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SAN FRANCISCO — As promised, Facebook today opened up its Instant Articles offering to all publishers, allowing anyone to import their content into the social network and adding it directly to a user’s News Feed.

The company said that adoption has been “tremendous” with more than 1,000 publishers worldwide. “We see clear evidence that Instant Articles provides a better reading experience for people and a significant boost for publishers looking to reach their audiences on Facebook,” wrote product manager Josh Roberts.

In addition to the general availability of Instant Articles, Facebook has added new partners and tools, including integrations with WordPress, Medium, RebelMouse, ShareThis, Sovrn, Tempest, Adobe Analytics, Chartbeast, Nielsen, Parsely, and SimpleReach.

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Branded content is also coming to Instant Articles. The company said that a tag will accompany these sponsored posts and publishers can take advantage of three options:

Everything Facebook announced at F8 2016 so far

Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook's F8 developer conference in San Francisco on April 12, 2016.

This week Facebook is unveiling the future of its developer platforms during its annual “F8” conference in San Francisco.

For more on the future of Messenger, Facebook live video, chatbots, artificial intelligence, and Internet-beaming satellites, read on — and check back for more as we update this list today and tomorrow with breaking stories from our reporters on the ground at the event.

Messenger gets chatbots

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Facebook announced that it’s opening up its Messenger platform in beta, allowing businesses to create chatbots for the service. This means you’ll now be able to interact with an AI-powered “representative” from a business right inside Messenger.

Read more

Livestream API opens for developers

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Facebook announced a set of partners for its livestreaming product and opened up its live API, which it plans on building out in the next five years.

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Facebook’s Internet-beaming satellite: launching soon

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Mark Zuckerberg said the company’s Internet.org program will launch its first satellite in the next few months. According to Zuckerberg, Facebook’s Free Basics

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